Crowd control: Four nifty tools for managing information about the people you meet

I think most people have trouble remembering faces when they meet a lot of them, so it’s useful to have some kind of contact management system set up right from the start. You never know when you might need the advice or input of an expert you’ve met at some point in the past – but which drawer did you stuff their business card into?

Most phones now have detailed address book options built in (provided that you remembered to enter the details), but if you want more control and flexibility in how to access them there are plenty of great, free cloud services to record and store all of your interactions. Some even let you add context about how, why and where you met, which could be very handy for finding your way back to their offices in the future.

Cardcloud

Cardcloud is a free app for Android and Apple mobiles that acts as a virtual business card that you can swap with other users. If your contact doesn’t want the Cardcloud app, you can send your information via email or through the mobile site. In this instance their details can be entered into your contacts list by hand, using the location marker and comments to add important context about where and why you met. This information is also available through the browser-based dashboard and on any mobile device. When setting up new contact management tools never give your clients’ email addresses to a provider for them to be invited. Some of these services are quite aggressive with their follow-up email policy, and if someone doesn’t want to register it can become very annoying for them, being spammed with reminders about your invitation for ever more.

Rapportive

With Google’s Gmail being such a widely used service there are oodles of great browser add-ons that give you a more personalised and streamlined email experience. Add-ons are quick and easy to install, as they just make a tweak to an existing program – in the case of Rapportive, that’s your online email interface when viewed in Firefox or Chrome browsers. This plug-in joins up all the dots by letting you see your Gmail contacts’ social connections, pulling up a photo, location and job description beside every incoming message. You can widen your network by connecting Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts; you can even keep notes, perhaps warning a “future you” about a bad exchange you had with a person, or if they were slow to settle your invoice. When additional information is available through the social streams, the app will report on recent posts, blogs and other network activity. This could be an excellent way to run a quick check on a potential employee to make sure that their behaviour is appropriate.

Hashable

Twitter is another widely used medium where people broadcast all manner of comments – from the fascinating and enlightening to the truly mundane. I’m sure no one needs to know that you ate scrambled eggs for breakfast, but tweeting about a connection could be an excellent way to make note of anyone you meet at a networking event or convention. At Hashable, you can keep track of meaningful connections with the use of a simple hashtag. When you meet someone at an event, just tweet about it, adding the person’s Twitter name and the hashtag #with – for example “Just had lunch #with @WorkingtheCloud talking about book developments!” – and Hashable will add the tweet to your records so that you can check back when your memory fails you.

This is an extract from Kate Russell’s new book, “Working the Cloud: The Ultimate guide to making the internet work for you and your business”. The book is available from Amazon both as paperback and Kindle Edition. Ms Russell is a freelance technology reporter, better known for her Webscape segment on BBC’s technology show, Click.